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US/Afghan InterpretersBack
[Published: Tuesday July 20 2021]

 First Wave of Afghan Interpreters Head to Fort Lee 

 
By Tara Copp and Jacqueline Feldscher, Defense One
 
WASHINGTON, 20 July. - (ANA) - Afghan interpreters and their families who have been cleared to come to the United States will be initially housed at Fort Lee, Va., the White House announced Monday. 
 
The Army base—and potentially other military installations in the U.S.—will serve as a short-term home for arriving Afghans whose work for the United States during military operations in Afghanistan has imperiled them and their families.
 
“These are brave Afghans and their families whose service to the United States has been certified by the embassy in Kabul and have completed thorough SIV security vetting processes,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price. 
 
The first chartered flights of evacuating Afghans are expected to arrive before the end of the month, Price said.
 
So far, about 700 interpreters and 1,800 of their dependents have been cleared for evacuation to the United States, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said. 
 
Fort Lee is located about 130 miles south of the Pentagon, close to Richmond. 
 
“We’re going to give these people a safe place to stay for a few days while they finish the processing that they have to finish before they can then be resettled elsewhere in the United States,” Kirby said. 
 
The new arrivals will be housed in a mix of single dorm rooms and family housing units at Fort Lee, and perhaps at other military installations if more space is needed. But the Afghans are not expected to stay long-term, and are not expected to arrive all at once, Kirby said. During their stay, they will receive additional medical screening as the final step in completing the SIV process, Kirby said.  Their stay, medical care and food and housing costs will be covered by the State Department, Kirby said. 
 
“The State Department will work with OMB for appropriate funding for this,” Kirby said. 
 
The State Department has said that about 18,000 interpreters are seeking a special immigrant visa for themselves and their family members. As of June, most of those applicants were only in the early stages of their paperwork and security vetting. 
 
Applicants who will require additional vetting will likely be housed at military installations outside of the United States while they wait for approval, Kirby said. 
 
Even as interpreters are starting to leave Afghanistan, the White House is continuing to work with Capitol Hill to improve the process of bringing other translators who are still awaiting help to the United States.   - (ANA) -
 
AB/ANA/20 July 2021 - - -
 
 
 

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